The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster
  • Published : 04 May 2021
  • Pages : 320
  • ISBN-10 : 1501171348
  • ISBN-13 : 9781501171345
  • Language : English

The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel


A “gripping” (Entertainment Weekly) mystery about a woman who thinks she’s found the love of her life—until he disappears.

Before Owen Michaels disappears, he smuggles a note to his beloved wife of one year: Protect her. Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers—Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss, as a US marshal and federal agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they’re also building a new future—one neither of them could have anticipated.

With its breakneck pacing, dizzying plot twists, and evocative family drama, The Last Thing He Told Me is a riveting mystery, certain to shock you with its final, heartbreaking turn.

Editorial Reviews

"What starts as an intimate meditation on found families deftly turns into a heart-pounding mystery reminiscent of the best true crime stories. But both work so beautifully in this gripping, perfectly-paced novel. I dare you to stop reading." - Susie Yang, New York Times bestselling author of White Ivy

"Laura Dave is a master story-teller. Gripping, big-hearted and twisty, The Last Thing He Told Me grabs readers from the very first page and never lets go." - Greer Hendricks, New York Times best-selling co-author of The Wife Between Us and You Are Not Alone

"With dizzying suspense and gorgeous prose, The Last Thing He Told Me tackles tough questions about trust, marriage and what it means to be a family. A page-turner of the highest order." - Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Home Before Dark

"Laura Dave's The Last Thing He Told Me is a thrilling roller coaster of a novel. This smart, intimate exploration of love and family is the foundation of a beautifully constructed mystery filled with twists and turns. A must-read." - Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Searching for Sylvie Lee

"Dave pulls off something that feels both new and familiar: a novel of domestic suspense that unnerves, then reassures. This is the antithesis of the way novels like Gone Girl or My Lovely Wife are constructed; in The Last Thing He Told Me, the surface is ugly, the situation disturbing, but almost everyone involved is basically good underneath it all. Dave has given readers what many people crave right now-a thoroughly engrossing yet comforting distraction." BookPage

"A page turner." - Associated Press

"The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave is a fast-moving, heartfelt thriller about the sacrifices we make for the people we love most." - Real Simple

"Light and bright, despite its edgy plot." - Vogue

"Gripping." - Entertainment Weekly

"Page-turning, exhilarating, and unforgettable." - PopSugar

"Dave's neat trick is to unveil revelations at a brisk clip that does not overwhelm character development. The novel's richness comes from the way Hannah and Bailey realize they need each other in the face of staggering loss; the mutual trust that grows between them is genuinely moving. As both daughter and stepmother come to realize, "That's how you fill in the blanks - with stories and memories from the people who love you."  - The New York Times Book Review

"You will not think that this is Laura's first...

Readers Top Reviews

Bristol Book Blogger
An original domestic thriller set in California. The characters are a stepmother and her stepdaughter navigating their way through the disappearance of their husband/father. It's compelling in its emotive simplicity and because I've not read anything similar. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Dave.
Lots of people will take this opportunity to describe what happens in this book, so I won’t. What I will say is that I read it in a single sitting and enjoyed it immensely. The story that starts out is not the story that the author ends up telling. What I will say is that this is such a new twist on stepmothers and second wives, that that alone makes it worth reading.
I had a strong feeling that this was going to be that book. You know the one. Right from the start, the narrator has a rhythm that pulls you in, the words flow so smoothly that you almost forget you’re reading. It’s like someone is reading to you. While you’re not sure if the storyteller is reliable or where the story is going, that’s all part of the intrigue. On the surface, things seem sweet. But there is an air of mystery. Now you’re hooked. Hannah is in love. With Owen. She picked up her life and moved across the country from Manhattan to Sausalito to be with him, where he is settled in with his now teenage daughter, Bailey, who is not looking to replace her deceased mother. Cue the snarky comments and eye rolls that only a 16-year-old can deliver with aplomb to the awaiting stepmother. But Hannah is not rattled. She is patient, having lost her own mother, albeit in a different way. Dependable Owen doesn’t come home from his job as an engineer at a software startup. Instead, he sends a young girl to his house to hand deliver a cryptic two-word message to his wife. Baffled, frightened and unsure of what to do, Hannah is determined to find out where her husband is, after word is out that the company is being charged with securities fraud, which leads her to take matters into her own hands on the streets of Austin. I especially liked this thriller for its well-paced plot, well-developed not too far-fetched with just the right amount of intrigue characters, each of whom is faced with a decision about which treacherous path to take. ​ THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME is an engrossing tale of suspense and family drama with female characters who are doing it for themselves.

Short Excerpt Teaser

1. If You Answer the Door for Strangers… If You Answer the Door for Strangers…
You see it all the time on television. There's a knock at the front door. And, on the other side, someone is waiting to tell you the news that changes everything. On television, it's usually a police chaplain or a firefighter, maybe a uniformed officer from the armed forces. But when I open the door-when I learn that everything is about to change for me-the messenger isn't a cop or a federal investigator in starched pants. It's a twelve-year-old girl, in a soccer uniform. Shin guards and all.

"Mrs. Michaels?" she says.

I hesitate before answering-the way I often do when someone asks me if that is who I am. I am and I'm not. I haven't changed my name. I was Hannah Hall for the thirty-eight years before I met Owen, and I didn't see a reason to become someone else after. But Owen and I have been married for a little over a year. And, in that time, I've learned not to correct people either way. Because what they really want to know is whether I'm Owen's wife.

It's certainly what the twelve-year-old wants to know, which leads me to explain how I can be so certain that she is twelve, having spent most of my life seeing people in two broad categories: child and adult. This change is a result of the last year and a half, a result of my husband's daughter, Bailey, being the stunningly disinviting age of sixteen. It's a result of my mistake, upon first meeting the guarded Bailey, of telling her that she looked younger than she was. It was the worst thing I could have done.

Maybe it was the second worst. The worst thing was probably my attempt to make it better by cracking a joke about how I wished someone would age me down. Bailey has barely stomached me since, despite the fact that I now know better than to try to crack a joke of any kind with a sixteen-year-old. Or, really, to try and talk too much at all.

But back to my twelve-year-old friend standing in the doorway, shifting from dirty cleat to dirty cleat.

"Mr. Michaels wanted me to give you this," she says.

Then she thrusts out her hand, a folded piece of yellow legal paper inside her palm. HANNAH is written on the front in Owen's writing.

I take the folded note, hold her eyes. "I'm sorry," I say. "I'm missing something. Are you a friend of Bailey's?"

"Who's Bailey?"

I didn't expect the answer to be yes. There is an ocean between twelve and sixteen. But I can't piece this together. Why hasn't Owen just called me? Why is he involving this girl? My first guess would be that something has happened to Bailey, and Owen couldn't break away. But Bailey is at home, avoiding me as she usually does, her blasting music (today's selection: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) pulsing all the way down the stairs, its own looping reminder that I'm not welcome in her room.

"I'm sorry. I'm a little confused… where did you see him?"

"He ran past me in the hall," she says.

For a minute I think she means our hall, the space right behind us. But that doesn't make sense. We live in a floating home on the bay, a houseboat as they are commonly called, except here in Sausalito, where there's a community of them. Four hundred of them. Here they are floating homes-all glass and views. Our sidewalk is a dock, our hallway is a living room.

"So you saw Mr. Michaels at school?"

"That's what I just said." She gives me a look, like where else? "Me and my friend Claire were on our way to practice. And he asked us to drop this off. I said I couldn't come until after practice and he said, fine. He gave us your address."

She holds up a second piece of paper, like proof.

"He also gave us twenty bucks," she adds.

The money she doesn't hold up. Maybe she thinks I'll take it back.

"His phone was broken or something and he couldn't reach you. I don't know. He barely slowed down."

"So… he said his phone was broken?"

"How else would I know?" she says.

Then her phone rings-or I think it's a phone until she picks it off her waist and it looks more like a high-tech beeper. Are beepers back?

Carole King show tunes. High-tech beepers. Another reason Bailey probably doesn't have patience for me. There's a world of teen things I know absolutely nothing about.

The girl taps away on her device, already putting Owen and her twenty-dollar mission behind her. I'm reluctant to let her go, still unsure about what is going on. Maybe this is some kind ...